Latest articles from Comment

Banks lined up to open in DIFC

September 2, 2004

The controversial Dubai International Financial Centre is set to open for business in mid-September. Following the abrupt departure in June of the two most senior regulators of the Dubai Financial Services Authority, the DIFC’s regulatory body, the project secured the personal involvement of Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum and is now proceeding at speed.

Europe’s first Islamic bank opens its doors

September 2, 2004

Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB), Europe’s first Islamic bank, plans to raise £38.5m to develop a branch network prior to its listing on the UK’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in the autumn. IBB, which was licensed by the UK’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) in early August, is the first Islamic bank in the UK and plans to provide a full range of retail banking services on a wholly Sharia-compliant basis, primarily to the UK’s 1.8 million Muslims.

Germany launches Europe’s first Sukuk

September 2, 2004

Saxony-Anhalt has become the first state government in Germany and Europe to issue a sub-sovereign bond under Islamic prin-ciples. The €100m bond – called Sukuk in Arabic – does not offer interest payments to its investors.

Standard Chartered’s Asian vision

September 2, 2004

With a 52% increase in first half profits, Standard Chartered could hardly have done better. But on the acquisition front, it seems to have gone sideways, selling a 9.76% stake in South Korea’s KorAm and watching HSBC beat it for a stake in China’s Bank of Communications (BoCom). Group CEO Mervyn Davies explains the bank’s strategy to Brian Caplen.

HSBC leads latest forays into China with 19.9% BoCom stake

September 2, 2004

HSBC bought 19.9% of Bank of Communications (BoCom), China’s fifth largest bank, for $1.75bn last month, demonstrating the country’s continued allure for major foreign banks eager to invest. Goldman Sachs is also due to follow with an investment of $170m in a planned joint-venture securities firm with Chinese partners.

SMFG adds new twist to Japan’s big banks saga

September 2, 2004

The battle in Japan to produce the world’s biggest bank took a new twist in late August when Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG) launched a hostile bid for the smallest of the “Big Four” banks – UFJ Holdings.

Citigroup makes first move on fragmented domestic market

September 2, 2004

Citigroup has taken a step forward in its strategy to focus on the home market with the acquisition of First American Bank in Texas. The move is in line with that of other US banks such as JPMorgan Chase, which merged with Bank One in July.

EMU could spawn new power bloc

September 2, 2004

All EU member states have ratified treaties that commit them to endeavouring to join the monetary union (EMU) – with the exception of the opt-outs negotiated by the UK and Denmark at Maastricht in 1991. What if a significant number of accession states stayed outside EMU for a long period? Would it affect the development of the rest of the EU?

Nordea’s research move opens way to criticism of ratings industry

September 2, 2004

Outsourcing to rating agencies is not the answer to providing an independent research function; the conflict of interest problem and the accompanying censure will simply move to the rating agencies – and who will regulate them?

Venezuela retains appeal for investors

September 2, 2004

Chávez’s hold on power is not unwelcome in the business world, though some are insuring against nationalisation.

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